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Pet Allergy

Household pets have become treasured companions to millions of Americans, but exposure to their dander (dead skin flakes) can trigger allergic reactions in their owners and other loved ones. Many families have experienced the pain of re-homing their pets due to allergic symptoms from recurrent pet exposure. However, pet allergy treatment and symptom management are widely available options that can be considered before surrendering any much-loved pets.

Many people believe that their pet’s fur is the cause of their annoying allergic symptoms. However, the fur itself does not contain the protein that causes allergic symptoms in those with pet allergies. Rather, the dead skin flakes (dander) and saliva carry the protein. Although signs of a pet allergy include those common to hay fever, some individuals may also experience signs of asthma with pet exposure.

Symptoms of Pet Allergies

People who are highly allergic may experience allergic symptoms within minutes of pet dander exposure. Those with more minor pet allergies may experience symptoms days later than the initial exposure. Symptoms commonly associated with pet allergies include:
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose, postnasal drip (mucus running down the back of the throat), and/or sneezing
  • Itchy, watery, red, and/or swollen eyes
  • Itchy rash, hives, and/or eczema
  • Itching of the nose, the roof of the mouth, or the throat
  • Facial pain or pressure (sinus pain or pressure)
  • Cough
  • Wheezing, shortness of breath, and/or chest tightness

Causes of Pet Allergies

Allergies are the result of your immune system reacting to a foreign substance, such as pet dander, and developing antibodies against these substances. Allergies emerge from an immune system that reacts to foreign substances that may not necessarily be harmful. Therefore, when you are exposed to pet dander, your immune system produces an inflammatory response that affects your nasal passages and lungs. Allergies to pets can be caused by any animal with fur, but the common culprits include:
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rodents
  • Rabbits
Although pet saliva and urine also carry the proteins that trigger allergic reactions, pet dander is a particular problem because it can remain airborne for long periods of time, can stick to clothes, can cling to walls, and gathers easily in upholstered furniture.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pet Allergies

If you believe you may be suffering from a pet allergy, our staff at Frontier Allergy Asthma and Immunology are here to help. During your visit, your allergy specialist will discuss your medical and family history, perform a physical examination, and recommend allergy testing. If you are diagnosed with a pet allergy, your allergist will work with you to devise a treatment plan to reduce your allergy symptoms and keep your beloved pets. Your allergist will likely recommend medications to manage your symptoms. Many patients also respond very well to allergy shot therapy (immunotherapy) in which tolerance to specific allergens is built up over time.

Next steps

If you are interested in further discussion about your specific needs, Dr. Reshamwala is happy to see you and answer any questions you may have. Please call 512-382-1933 or email clinic@frontierallergist.com to schedule an appointment today! Book an appointment

Written by: Dr. Neha Reshamwala
NPI number: 1780874578
Page last reviewed: 03/20/21

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